There’s a reason Donald Trump has been biting his tongue of late about Judge Tanya Chutkan, the federal judge overseeing his Washington DC criminal trial: she’s set to rule soon on Jack Smith’s request for a gag order. Instead Trump has been blowing off steam in rather disgusting fashion, attacking everyone from “liberal Jews” to his own former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley.
To that end, Trump may have stepped in it when it comes to Milley. Trump’s latest social media screed falsely accuses Milley of treason, adding that “in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!” This isn’t quite a death threat (although we all know Trump is trying to incite violence here), but it may be something else: an attack on a trial witness.
As part of the normal discovery process, Trump was given the names of the government’s potential trial witnesses against him. The judge issued a protective order barring Trump from disclosing the names of any of those witnesses. To date, he’s abided by that. But given that this is a trial centered around January 6th, there’s a good chance that Milley is on the list as a potential witness.
If Milley is on that list, and if Trump has been informed of this, then he’s knowingly attacking a trial witness. This is the kind of thing that can get your bail revoked faster than anything – not to mention inviting the possibility of witness intimidation charges getting tacked on. Trump’s violent social media attacks on Milley are also giving Judge Chutkan more grounds for invoking a gag order in the meantime.
There’s really nothing Donald Trump can gain by making these kinds of social media posts. He can’t magically get into office by trying to incite violence. He can only put himself behind bars more quickly. We all wish Trump would just shut up. But if he insists on running his mouth in this way, he’s only harming himself.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report